Jesse Ruben recently released “Scared Of America” and he took some time to answer questions about his music career. Check out our interview with him below.
What first led to your involvement in music?
Music was always around in my household. I’m a fourth generation musician on my dad’s side, so from a really young age I was encouraged to play. I started taking piano lessons at 5, switched to guitar at 16, and then went to college and got a Songwriting Degree. Yep. A Songwriting Degree.
How did you draw from the success of “We Can” to get you to where you are today?
The success of the song itself has been really amazing, and from that, we created The We Can Project, which is based on the song. It’s a project based learning initiative for elementary/middle school students. Over 300,000 students have participated. It has allowed me to travel to a bunch of new places, and come into contact with a whole new audience that I would normally never have been exposed to. I never set out to work with kids but it’s been incredibly rewarding.
“Scared Of America” covers a lot of current events. Did you find yourself feeling like this song needed to be written by someone and it just happened to be yourself?
That’s a really great way to put it, actually. I as in Chicago for a masterclass, and someone mentioned to me that I didn’t have to be so nice all the time in my writing. So, I was thinking about some of the things that were going on in the world that I wanted to write about but hadn’t yet. I think we should be talking about these things. The response to the song has been interesting. Some people are excited that the song covers these really important issues. I think we could be doing some things better. And there are a lot of topics that I wanted to cover in the song, but didn’t. When I play the song live, the response has been really amazing.
Do you plan to continue to write politically charged songs or do you just want to inspire people in any way you can with your music?
I’ve written political songs before and I’m sure I’ll write more in the future, but it’s not my only focus. I try to cover the whole spectrum as a writer, and I never want anything to be off limits. It was really freeing, writing “Scared Of America”. Ultimately, the goal is to have the songs be a part of people’s lives, whatever that looks like.
You had to put your music aside for a while due to being ill. Did that allow you to come back with even more inspiration than before?
That was a really challenging decision, to put everything on hold. So much of my identity is wrapped up in my job. But then how could I call myself a singer/songwriter if I wasn’t singing or writing? After getting healthy, I definitely have a new appreciation for things. A lot of these new songs are about dealing with difficult stuff. Everything from heartbreak and personal tragedy to really scary world events. I want people to know that no matter what happens, it’s going to be okay. I really understand that now, firsthand.
Where do you plan to go from here? What can we expect from you as we approach the holidays and roll into 2017?
I’m actually running the New York City Marathon on Sunday (AHHHHH!). I’ve raised a bunch of money for Lyme Disease Research, a cause incredibly close to my heart, after everything I went through. I’m gonna be promoting Scared Of America for the next few months and then I’ll probably release another single early next year, followed by my new EP called A Reply To Violence.
Thanks for your time! Where can our readers follow you?
My pleasure! You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @jesseruben, or on Facebook at facebook.com/jesserubenmusic.